If you have been charged with a theft crime in Massachusetts it is imperative that you take the charges seriously. Although theft offenses do not carry harsh judicial penalties if convicted, they can result in serious non-judicial penalties. Where theft charges were once considered minor offenses by an employer, for example, they are now frequently used to disqualify an applicant for employment. Likewise, theft crimes can lead to disciplinary action if you hold a professional license. If you are a foreign national, a conviction for a theft crime can even prevent you from qualifying for citizenship and/or lead to removal proceedings if the offense is considered a crime of “moral turpitude”. For these reasons, it is imperative that you understand the different types of theft in Massachusetts.
In Massachusetts, basic theft offenses are referred to as “larceny”. The crime of larceny, however, includes the following types of theft:
- Outright taking of another person’s property
- Embezzlement which involves rightfully being in possession of the property of another and then not giving the property back
- Fraudulently obtaining property or using false pretenses to obtain property
In Massachusetts, larceny can be petit larceny or grand larceny, depending on the value of the property stolen in most cases. If the value of the property is less than $250, the offense is considered petit larceny and carries up to a year in jail and/or a fine of up to $300. Grand larceny involves property valued at more than $250 and is punishable by up to five years in prison and/or a fine of up to $25,000. The type of property involved, however, can also convert a petit larceny to grand larceny. If the property is a firearm or a vehicle, for example, the offense becomes grand larceny regardless of the value of the property. Furthermore, petit larceny can also be charged as a more serious crime based on victim characteristics. If the property taken directly off the victim (as in a mugging) or the victim is over the age of 65, the charges and potential penalties will be more serious.
In addition to basic larceny offenses there are a number of other theft offenses that you could be charged with in Massachusetts, including, but not limited to:
- Identify theft
- Fraud (insurance, credit card, mail, health care etc.)
- Receiving stolen property
If you have been charged with a theft crime in Massachusetts, consult with an experienced Massachusetts criminal defense attorney right away to get started on your defense.
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